RAFA Racing Club holds female driver shootout
Updated: Nov 20
The groundbreaking RAFA Racing Club held the first all-female RAFA Driver Shootout, aimed at finding the next female star with a five day selection in Texas. Discover the nine drivers from around the world that took part in the event.
RAFA Racing Club has been a disrupting force in the world of sportscar racing lately - as the trailblazing founder of the exclusive car community has gained international presence in some of the most prestigious championships such as the European GT4 Championship and, lately, in the world of Porsche North America. Originally born in El Salvador, Rafa Martinez has himself developed massively as a racing driver - and fought for the class championship title in the first edition of the McLaren Trophy Europe alongside pro female racer Jem Hepworth. Off the track, Martinez has established a community of high-performance car auto drivers, supporters, and enthusiasts which is increasingly focusing on driver development.
With this mission in mind, RAFA Racing Club launched the first driver selection aimed at female racing drivers: nine selected young female racers have in fact travelled to RAFA Racing Club Headquarters in Houston, US, for an exclusive shootout that awarded one outstanding talent with a funded seat in the next Porsche Sprint Challenge North America series. The selected drivers had five days to hone their on-track abilities and showcase their speed - as well as work on fitness, simulator and media skills, in a one in a lifetime opportunity that not only aims to find a winning driver, but also concretely develop each participant, through the help of some world-class coaches and judges. The 9 female talents that took part in the RAFA Racing Club Shootout - in partnership with Motorsport Woman - represented seven different countries from around the world and are in a 18 to 26 age bracket. With three drivers per car, the candidates took turns behind the wheel of three Porsche 718 GT4 machines - a platform unknown to many ahead of the final stage of the selection.
Caroline Candas, 21, had a stellar season in the FFSA French TC championship, where she finished third in the championship standings after taking 10 podiums and a race victory. Candas graduated to the TC class after contesting one round in TC Light in 2022 - where she had already claimed two class wins. In a strong 30-car field the FFSA TC series proved to be very competitive and Candas was consistently among the front runners, also claiming a breakthrough victory at the Val de Vienne round. Taking her podium tally into double figures at the Le Castellet season finale, Candas showed fantastic pace qualifying and races alike.
Eighteen year old Emma Segattini is one of the youngest drivers of the selection. The Italian racer is in her second year of car racing, having started karting aged 12. After collecting several successes in karting – including in the Italian Rotax Junior championship – she graduated to race cars in 2022, when she joined the Italian BMW M2 Cup in a partial campaign. She then returned for a full season in the series in 2023, where she became a consistent contender for the top five. After progressively working her way up the order, Segattini took a historic first victory at the wheel of the BMW M2 CS Racing at Imola in October, where she finished ahead of highly-experienced single-seater and GT racer Vicky Piria after a tight duel. The experience with the rear-wheel drive BMW M2 platform is likely to provide a good starting point for Segattini as she tackled GT4 machinery for the first time on a new track.
Charlotte Birch, 19 from the UK, has only recently returned to competitions after a season spent on the sidelines - but has made appearances in a variety of racing series towards the end of 2023. Birch began her car racing career in the Junior Saloon Car Championship in which she achieved a podium finish in wet conditions at Anglesey in 2018. Since then, Birch has competed in multi-class GT Racing, including appearances in the Britcar Trophy in 2021 driving a Ginetta G40; at the end of the 2021 season, she stepped up to drive a Ligier JS2 R, and claimed a class victory, before she made another significant step up as she moved into the GT Cup championship driving a Lamborghini Super Trofeo to multiple class podiums, as well as a class win in a Ginetta G55 Supercup.
Jemma Moore comes from a family of heavy motorsport heritage - including sister Sarah, former W Series podium finisher. 19-year old Jemma is making a name for herself and impressed with stellar results in the highly-competitive Junior Saloon Car Championship, where she raced for family-owned Tockwith Motorsport. She collected seven podiums, a race win and a pole position across two full seasons. In 2019, Moore became the youngest ever winner in the GT4 South European Series, after securing victory in a Ginetta G50 at a rain-swept Estoril. She has most recently raced in the Iberian Supercars Endurance series.
Arguably the most experienced of the lot, Caitlin Wood has raced at the top level in both GT cars as well as single seaters: the 25 year old Australian moved to Europe in 2016 to pursue her racing dreams and entered the European GT4 championship in a KTM X-Bow GT4, with two top 10 finishes to her name. She then stepped up to the GT3 platform, entering selected rounds of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance and Sprint Cup. In 2018, Wood raced in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe and, with also two Bathurst 12 Hours under her belt, she continued her progression in sports car racing. Caitlin was then selected for the inaugural season of the all-female W Series championship in 2019, where she secured a top five in Assen and two point scoring finishes. She would return as a reserve driver in 2021, impressing with a further top-5 at Spa Francorchamps. She was then back in action for the season finale at COTA, again grabbing a top ten. Wood has most recently raced in the Nürburgring NLS, and her experience in a wide range of machinery as well as track knowledge might make the British-based Australian one to watch.
Madison 'Maddie' Aust made the switch to single seaters to touring cars in 2022 - and her move immediately paid off, as she secured five podiums and two race victories in TC America, finishing third in the championship as a rookie. Aust, 18, contested her first season in race cars in 2022, when the Texan raced full time in Formula 4 US Championship - scoring points at New Jersey Motorsports Park. She was previously assessed at the W Series selections, and went on to collect valuable experience in single seaters before making appearances at the wheel of closed-cockpit cars in World Racing League first, and then in the highly competitive TC America, at the wheel of a BMW M2 CS Racing machine. Aust is probably the driver with the most experience of the COTA circuit.
Another driver whose background is in single seaters is Hannah Greenemeier: the 20 year old American has been one of the protagonists of the 2023 Formula 4 US championship, where she showed great speed and racecraft, scoring points on four occasions and with a personal best of sixth. Greenemeier has been racing since she was 4 and has been one of the biggest names in North American karting. In 2019, she made it to the finals in the SKUSA SuperNationals and became SKUSA Protour Champion in 2021 - one of the greatest achievements in American karting. Her first taste of single seaters was at the Lucas Oil Racing School, before she was invited as one of the 15 young talents assessed by W Series in 2022. She has also been shortlisted for the Mazda Motorsports selections and is part of the Shift Up Now collective.
Jamaican star Sara Misir is not new to shootout selections either, having won the Formula Woman contest. Misir, 25, then made her international debut in competitions in 2022, when she joined the GT Cup Championship grid at Snetterton, UK, at the wheel of a McLaren 570S GT4. With three rounds under her belt, she had collected a personal best of fifth in class - before returning to the championship in 2023, when Misir and fellow Formula Woman winner Alana Carter debuted the Lotus Emira GT4. Sara has spent the majority of this season competing in her native Jamaica - where she emerged as a race winner, while at the same time working to return to the GT4 platform.
Alyx Coby began racing at age 8 and has competed in various karting championships both in her home soil in Ireland as well as across Europe. She became the first female to win a Irish national karting championship, leading to her selection as a member of the CJJ Motorsports driver development program. Coby made her car racing debut in 2022, when she crossed the Atlantic to race in the American Endurance Championship race at Road Atlanta, in a BMW M2 CS for team Random Vandals Racing. Taking victory at debut, Coby aimed to expand her American presence in the sport. In Europe, she took part in a partial campaign in the Danish F4 in 2022, but then returned Stateside, where she entered rounds of the World Racing League.
The first RAFA Racing Club Shootout is another step in the direction of more accessibility to leading sportscar series, thanks to pioneering programs that are providing female talents with unprecedented opportunities. While one driver will emerge as the winner, the selection will have surely played a role in the progress of each drivers' career.